FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Terry Lynn Smith Ken Beck
The Museum of Television & Radio Presents
Look! Up At the Screen! It’s Superheroes on Television
Batman, Wonder Woman, the Tick, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Utility belt not included.
Superheroes—larger-than-life champions locked in eternal struggle against the forces of evil—are part and parcel of American popular culture. Ever since the first appearance of Superman in Action Comics established the comic book (traditionally a collection of repackaged newspaper strips) as a viable artistic entity in its own right, the spectacle of superpowered “long underwear” vigilantes has resonated with audiences of all ages and inspired debate and analysis in the halls of academe. Whether enjoyed as escapist fantasy or pondered as archetypes of modern myth, superheroes have become ubiquitous, transcending their pulpy origins to find expression in theater, pop music, films, and, inevitably, television.
Look! Up at the Screen! It’s Superheroes on Television
This Museum series will feature screenings of complete episodes of more than thirty superhero programs from 1953 to 2001. The series will be presented in five thematic packages: comic-book favorites, the mod crime fighters of the 1960s, empowered superheroines, cartoon characters in action, and the postmodern superhero. The schedule includes:
George Reeves wears the lamest disguise in the history of the genre when not fighting for truth, justice, and the American way in The Adventures of Superman (1953); Bill Bixby is a nuclear age Jean Valjean in The Incredible Hulk (1979), his world-weary gravitas regularly interrupted by a shirtless green monster wreaking havoc; and the phenomenally popular Batman of the 1960s introduces the concept of “camp” to mainstream audiences and dazzles the eye with its pop-art derived visuals—most surprising, considering the character’s violent, grimly realistic origins in comic books.
July 9 –
The Avengers (1965), while not superheroes in the traditional sense (no capes or strange powers), employed an iconic visual presentation, outlandish foes, and playful science fiction elements that placed agents John Steed and Emma Peel in a superheroic context, as this tussle with an ominous robot demonstrates; the well-heeled hero of The Green Hornet (1966), aided by his trusty aide Kato (Bruce Lee), faces off against a “silent gun”; and ITV’s The Champions (1968) were dapper British agents with paranormal powers (granted to them by a mysterious ancient race), who work for a shadowy organization (NEMESIS) against the backdrop of Swinging London.
Wonder Woman, the first significant female superhero, was created in 1941 by psychiatrist William Moulton Marston in an effort to give girls an identification figure in the overwhelmingly male world of costumed crusaders. The New, Original Wonder Woman (1975), which recounts Wonder Woman’s origin, was a great success, hewing faithfully to Marston’s vision, down to the distinctive costume, mythological roots, and WWII setting. Like Wonder Woman, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997) struggles with an epic destiny and a sexually frustrated mother in this sly outing featuring a subversive turn from the late John Ritter.
August 20 –
The Wally Cox–voiced Underdog (1966)saves the earth’s water supply while declaiming in iambic pentameter; the decidedly unmighty members of Ralph Bakshi’s satirical The Mighty Heroes (1967) display their signature ineptitude; Terrytoons stalwart Mighty Mouse (1967) saves the day without bragging about his 1945 Academy Award nomination; the earnest marionettes of Gerry Anderson’s Supercar (1961) team turn their efforts from fighting evil to teaching a monkey to play jazz; The Powerpuff Girls (1999) offer the strangely satisfying spectacle of cute little moppets unleashing total mayhem; and ElectraWoman and DynaGirl (1976) pushes the concept of camp to terrifying extremes in this fondly remembered disaster from the Krofft stable.
Admission to Look! Up at the Screen!
It’s Superheroes on Television is included with the Museum’s suggested contribution: Members free; $10.00 for adults; $8.00 for senior
citizens and students; and $5.00 for children under fourteen. Admission is free in
The Museum of Television & Radio, with
The Museum of Television
& Radio in New York, located at 25 West 52 Street in Manhattan, is open
Tuesdays through Sundays from noon to 6:00 p.m. and until 8:00 p.m. on
Thursdays. The Museum of Television & Radio in